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Sonora Quest Laboratories and Aunt Rita’s Foundation join forces to improve access to STI testing

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STI testing partnership now in its fourth year in effort to help community
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Aunt Rita’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the elimination of and suffering from HIV and AIDS, and Sonora Quest Laboratories, Arizona’s leading diagnostic laboratory system, are celebrating four years of a collaborative effort to increase sexually transmitted infection awareness and testing in Arizona.

The partnership between Sonora Quest and Aunt Rita’s to provide free test vouchers began in 2019 with the objective of increasing access to HIV testing, according to a press release. Last year, the two organizations expanded voucher test offerings to include free STI testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia, the release states.

In addition, Arizonans aged 13 and up across Arizona have access to vouchers for free testing for three common STIs: syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Arizonans aged 18 and older continue to be eligible to obtain a free HIV test as well.

The partnership between Aunt Rita’s and Sonora Quest reduces the barriers to testing and supports the overall goal of the Arizona Department of Health Services to have 90% of all people who are HIV positive know their status. Since 2019, Sonora Quest and Aunt Rita’s have processed more than 600 HIV and STI tests—with the capacity to spread awareness to even more Arizonans.

“Awareness is the key to prevention—it offers empowerment to proactively manage your health as well as the answers you may need for peace of mind or to take action,” said Stacey Jay Cavaliere, executive director of Aunt Rita’s Foundation.

The CDC recommends that people who are sexually active get tested for STIs regularly, even if they don’t present symptoms. Persons who are sexually active or sharing needles for injection drug use should be tested at least annually. Syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are curable through antibiotic treatment. To reduce the risk of STIs, sexually active persons should practice safe sex methods.

Though HIV is not curable, with proactive testing and awareness, safe sex practices, and the once-daily medication PrEP, HIV can be preventable and treatable.

Those interested can simply visit GetTestedAZ.org, available in Spanish and English, to receive a voucher to find free, convenient test locations at a participating Sonora Quest patient service center. Patients will receive their results via email, along with resources for treatment and education on preventive actions. Minors who receive a positive result can request access to treatment without consent from a guardian.

“We believe in supporting our community’s health—no matter where people are in their health care journey—whether it’s for prevention, management, or treatment,“ said Nichole Kerr, senior director at Sonora Quest Laboratories. “Arizona is experiencing high rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia as well as HIV, and early detection can stop the spread of infection and increase the effectiveness of treatment options.”

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